One Boy Missing by Stephen Orr

This is my second Stephen Orr novel, and I’m looking for the third.

One Boy Missing by Stephen Orr

‘People don’t just appear from nowhere and then disappear into thin air.’

In Guilderton in country South Australia, a butcher reports seeing a boy being stashed in a car boot.  Detective Bart Moy, who has recently returned to Guilderton to be near his aging father (George), finds nothing.  No one seems to be missing a boy, but Moy keeps looking.  Bart Moy once had a son of his own, and the thought of a missing boy aged about eight or nine weighs heavily on his mind.  The boy turns up, but he won’t answer any questions.  Who is he, where did he come from and what has happened to him?

‘You can’t make a fella do what he doesn’t want to.’

Bart Moy sets about gaining the boy’s trust.  And when the woman caring for the boy falls ill, Moy takes him into his own home.

I turned each page wondering about the boy’s story, wondering whether Bart Moy could overcome his own demons, and wondering how Bart and his father George would find some middle ground in their relationship.  George needs Bart’s help, but he only wants to accept it on his own terms.  Bart wishes his father would accept that he needs help, and as the two of them work out some new terms to their father/son relationship, the boy gradually comes to trust them both.

Even when Bart works out who the boy is, there are other pieces of the puzzle to be put together.  The boy is afraid of what he might lose.  George has his own views on the best way to proceed, while Bart has other decisions to make.  Three well-developed, believable characters.

This is a crime story with a difference. For me, by the end of this novel, the crime aspect was less important than what might happen in the future.  This is the second of Mr Orr’s novels I have read, and I’ll soon be seeking out the next one.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith